All the Beautiful Liars- The Fictional Memoirs of Katrina Klain by Sylvia Petter- 2020
All the Beautiful Liars is a simply marvelous account of a woman’s attempt to discover her real past. Her German father and Austrian mother immigrated to Australia right after the end of World War Two, she was just a young girl. Her school mates made fun of her, calling her a “Nazi” even though she did not know what that actually meant, just that it was something very bad.
As soon as she could Katrina moved to Vienna. We meet her on a long flight back to Sydney for the funeral of her mother. In Austria she has already met one of her uncles who embezzled a fortune from the Austrian government. She knows her family, including her parents, were involved with the Nazis and later the German Secret Police. But there are darker secrets waiting for her, secrets that will undermine her sense of her identity.
Katina’s discovery take us deeply into areas she wished she had left alone. Her family history illuminates the impact of the war on survivors, people who did what they thought they must. The novel is structured in a very creative fashion. We have Katrina’s thoughts on the long flight intertwined with that of an all knowing alter-ego trying to force her to see the truth. Maybe this is a paranormal entity, maybe something from her drifting into sleep on the very long flight.
Most of the narration is by Katrina but there are segments from her father, her mother and an uncle. No one can quite be believed. Her father had Nazi sympathies she never knew about.
The ending is very powerful .
“I am an Australian, now based in Vienna, Austria. I’m all over the place, a blob of mercury on a lab floor, as my old writing boot camp sergeant, Alex Keegan, used to say. Born in Vienna, I grew up in Australia and after more than 25 years in the Geneva area, am now living in Vienna, Austria. I started writing fiction in 1993, and my poems, articles and stories have appeared in print and on the web.
I’ve attended workshops and writing conferences in Austria, Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US, and have done correspondence courses through Humber College, Toronto. In 2009 I completed a PhD in Creative Writing at UNSW and am working on my second novel.
I was Co-Director Vienna of the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English, Vienna, 2014. A founding member of the Geneva Writers’ Group, I am currently a member of IG Autorinnen Autoren and GAV, Vienna, Austria, and the Australian Society of Authors.”
I found this a deeply moving work
very skillfully and beautifully told.
The Reading Life